Chance Encounters

A while back, I was wandering through a gourmet food store in Chapel Hill, NC.  My lovely bride and I were on a quest for candy … and Southern Season has an awesome candy department.  We had decided to spend a small fortune on candy for a “candy bar” at our daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Ah, that’s a different story.  On our way to the candy, we passed by a book signing table.  Let me rephrase … a COOKBOOK signing table.

Now from past posts, we all know your Crazy Cookbook Guy can’t resist a signed book … no matter who signed it or when.  On the used cookbook circuit that could be anybody at any time, usually a nobody from years ago.  I am not a big fan of “celebrity” cookbooks but thumb through them looking for signed copies.

img_7223That “I am not a fan” thing might change.  This signing table was populated by an engaging young woman named Fanny Slater.  The cookbook?  ORANGE, LAVENDER & FIGS.  A couple of years ago, Fanny was the winner of Rachel Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition.

Book signings can be a lonely thing.  Well, I was there close to the end, but she and her dad were just sitting there looking bored when the half-blind Crazy Cookbook Guy walked up.  We had quite an enjoyable conversation, me hawking my book and her hawking her book.  I guess she won.  I think she was teaching a cooking class just after that. 

Fanny is quite the entrepreneur, catering, book signings, cooking shows, appearances, cooking classes … just reading the schedule on her website tired me out.

The cookbook is very dynamic, full of personal stories and interesting recipes.  I know I usually copy recipes into my reviews but given the cookbook’s status (i.e. currently published … we all know I usually pull recipes from vintage cookbooks) I’ll do nothing more than mention a few that caught my eye.  The personal stories are what drew me in.  I love a cookbook with personal stories.

The recipes are modern but she has a unique take on modernizing  old favorites.  For instance, Spicy Pulled Chicken And Roasted Garlic Soup is a take-off on a classic tortilla soup.  And there are a few eye-catching newbies, like what she calls FAN Sauce.  I guess “FAN” refers to her … I couldn’t quite figure it out but I won’t be surprised to see FAN SAUCE on the shelf one of these days.   I don’t care, it looks delicious.   I can’t wait to try it.

Her Herby Buttermilk Dill Dressing is a healthier reboot of a ranch dressing.  That’s another one I’m going to have to try.  Her Creamy Pulled Chicken Salad and Bacon Wraps is another one … well, I could go on and on.  If I lived next door to her I know I’d weigh 1000 pounds!

img_7224I bought this cookbook several months ago, but I had a problem with cataracts at the time … I kept putting off reading the cookbook simply because I couldn’t read.  For a collector of vintage cookbooks, buying a new one is always an interesting opportunity.  Okay, she was funny and cute and we talked about a lot more than just cooking … like book marketing.  All authors struggle with that.  And it was an opportunity to get a really nice cookbook signed … to ME!  That is actually a unique addition to my collection.  Looks good, right?

Now it is even more special  … Fanny has just announced a new endeavor.  Food Network TV Star.  In January she’ll be part of a new show … The Kitchen Sink!  And to think, I met her when she was just … well, she’s been on TV a lot already, guest shots on Rachel Ray and other shows and she has her own segments on local TV in Wilmington NC … so in my book,  she’s already a star.  More info on Fanny Slater can be found at her website … http://fannyslater.com/

I give this cookbook two thumbs up … if you are looking for a last minute gift idea this year, this might be a good option for you.

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That Crazy Cookbook Guy’s alter ego is Author Thomas Fenske … his latest novel, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP, is currently available too … another fine gift idea.  More info at http://thefensk.com

 

 

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